He slammed a palm on the dashboard as the wolf snapped out, frustrated and angry. And needy. That was the kicker. She'd turned him away, and he was drowning for her. "Fuck." Thrusting his hands through his hair, he used every one of the tricks he'd learned over the years to calm himself down.
It wasn't as easy as Mercy might've believed. Riley made it a point to be in command of his instincts because he knew what would happen if he wasn't. His wolf was wild, ferocious, quite capable of killing without a blink if those he loved were threatened. Only with Mercy did he dare let the leash slip a little. And when their bodies joined . . . hell, what leash? But she seemed to like him that way.
"Not enough," he all but snarled as the car started moving again. The worst of it was, he knew she was right. This wasn't about them in isolation any longer, it couldn't be - if it had been just sex . . . but it wasn't. He'd felt it. So had she. So had his wolf. Now it crouched down in feral anger, but it was also thinking, considering . . . wanting.
For the first time in months, the Ghost heard whispers that perhaps Silence wasn't all bad, that perhaps they'd been hasty in beginning to condemn it. He listened, said nothing, but knew something had to be done.
For while the Ghost had nothing against Silence - nor the peace it granted so many - he knew the Protocol was what gave the Psy Council its power. Take away that method of control, and perhaps the Psy race would rediscover other kinds of freedom.
But first, he had to cut this off at the root, discover who was pulling the strings. The M-Psy in charge of the shooter, the Ghost's unwitting source, had known only of the compulsion, not the why or the who. Now he scoured the Net for information, but this person had been very, very careful. He or she had allowed not even the merest sliver of thought to escape into the Net.
A very clever adversary. But the Ghost had assassinated a Councilor. He knew how to wait, how to listen, how to learn. Sooner or later, everybody betrayed themselves. And he was well versed in how to start rumors that spread like wildfire.
At this moment he whispered that the shooter and others had been manipulated, that the Council was trying to cow the populace with terror. He could've said more, but sometimes, it was better to let people fill in the gaps themselves.
Mercy's brothers had picked a little place in Chinatown for dinner. She walked in to find them arguing over the menu. Grinning, she messed up Sage's hair, kissed Grey on the cheek, and let Bastien grab her in a hug that lifted her off her feet. All her brothers were strong men, but Bastien, the closest to her in age, was the biggest.
"Not if you want to live," she said, after he laughingly threatened to throw her into the air. She saw the pretty waitresses give her envious looks - though it was obvious she was related to Bas. He had hair as darkly red as her own, though his eyes were a sharp, incredible green. Her brothers were all gorgeous on their own, but collectively, they made temperatures rise like nobody's business. She'd spent half her teen years scaring off the girls who'd come sniffing after one or the other. Not that the idiots had been grateful.
"You look good, sis." Putting her on her feet after another squeeze, Bas let her get into her seat.
"Yeah, nice dress." Grey actually sounded sincere.
Mercy looked down at the short, royal blue cheongsam she'd bought in this very part of town. With her hair pulled up into a high ponytail and some makeup on her face, she felt good. Even if the knife-edge of need continued to twist relentlessly in her stomach, immune to the practicality with which she'd held Riley at bay this afternoon. "Thanks, Shadow."
"How come he gets a cool nickname?" Sage muttered. "I get Herb."
"Hey, don't knock it," Bas said. "You want to be called Frenchie instead? Sounds like the name of a f**king condom."
They all choked on their oolong tea and one of the waitresses fluttered over, ready to offer all kinds of help. She saw her brothers check out the petite beauty - men - but though they gave her charming grins, they didn't extend an invitation. Clearly disappointed, she took the order they finally put together, and headed off.
"What?" Mercy looked around the table. "You guys take up a vow of celibacy?"
"Now that you ask," Grey murmured, brown eyes twinkling.
"Hah." She snorted. Grey might be the quietest, but he was also the most cunningly feline. "I'll believe that the day I" - Normally, she'd have said "sleep with a wolf" but since that option was out, she settled for - "grow wings and fly."
Bas put a hand on her back, as if checking for wings. "This stuff is really soft."
Sage, next to her, fingered the sleeve. "Yeah, it is. How come we rate getting you in a soft, pretty dress?"
"How come I rate the three of you all shiny and spic-and-span?" She raised an eyebrow at their outfits. Jeans, shirts, and T-shirts, nothing out of the ordinary. But all new, or clean and pressed, much nicer than necessary for dinner with their sister.
"We thought we'd go dancing." Grey winked. "You're coming."
"Yes. We need you as bait to draw the other women."
And since Mercy was a sucker for her brothers when the three of them ganged up on her, she went dancing with the demons. The serving staff at the restaurant looked so mournful as they left that she wrapped an arm around Bas's waist and shook her head. "I don't think the three of you should be allowed out in public together."
He swung his own arm over her shoulders. "And I just know I'm going to have to punch someone for trying to paw you in that dress." He sounded very eager.